Yes, It’s A Rivalry

By Richard Kent, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: November 1, 2009
CONNECTICUT (BASN) — Since 2001, Rutgers and UConn have played eight football games. Seven of those eight have been decided by 10 points or less.

This past Saturday’s thrilling 28-24 win by the Scarlet Knights at an emotionally charged Rentschler Field — honoring the slain Jasper Howard of UConn — was no different.

Rutgers led 21-10 going into the fourth quarter, but no one of the near capacity crowd — knowing the history between Rutgers and UConn — thought that the game was over.They were right.

The Huskies scored 14 straight points to take the lead with less than a minute to play. But the Scarlet Knights charged back on an 80-plus yard touchdown pass from star frosh Tom Savage to speedy Tim Brown — a close friend of Howard from Miami — spelled the difference.

The two universities are separated by 174 miles, the closest between any Conference foes in the Big East. Rutgers leads the overall series 20-9, but most of those games were played in the pre Division I-A era for UConn.

UConn graduated a star from New Jersey last year in Donald Brown while Stratford’s Mark Harrison stars for Rutgers. Neither player was recruited seriously by their own state’s University.

UConn is a natural rival for Rutgers. The only more natural rival for UConn is former conference member Boston College and the two schools don’t currently play each other.

West Virginia-Pittsburgh is a great Big East rivalry, but Rutgers-UConn is burgeoning. Just ckeck the Rutgers rivals message boards or the UConn scout message boards.

Venom is spewed at the other school and specifically their fans.

Both Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and UConn’s Randy Edsall recognize the significance of the rivalry. Many players on both teams played high school ball in Florida as evidenced by Howard and Brown.

The Big East should step up to the plate and make the game an annual Thanksgiving weekend event. The game was once played at Rutgers on Thanksgiving morning and drew quite well.

The game should be played the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving on ESPN. It would draw good ratings in the metropolitan area. History has also shown that it’s almost always a close and well played game.

Many still consider the Big East as more of a basketball conference. But by promoting rivalries like Rutgers-UConn, much could be done to show the significance of football in the eight-team BCS conference.